Thursday, December 30, 2010

Underage sex -- changing times, static laws?

Reading the news reports about local trainee teacher who has been found guilty of having sex with two underage girls, this question popped into my mind: is it time for the laws governing underage sex to be updated?

Although I may be a voice in the wilderness on this issue, my answer to the question above will be "Yes".

For those of you all who may not be aware, according to Singapore law (Penal Code Section 376A, Subsections 1 to 3 and Women's Charter Section 140 Subsection 1[i]), any individual who engage in sexual intercourse with a female who is under 16 years of age will be guilty of a criminal offence and be liable to imprisonment, fine or both. As for those who engage in sexual intercourse with a female under 14 years of age, they will, besides being liable to imprisonment and/or fine, also be liable to caning.

Moving on, it is perhaps evident that whoever was responsible for drafting the laws governing underage sex, they were operating on the notion of an unequal relationship between an older man and a sexually immature/naive/innocent young female; that the older man is the sexual aggressor and the girl a sexual victim.

Yet, as was rightly pointed out by former Attorney-General Walter Woon and in this article, such a notion may no longer be as accurate and valid as when the relevant laws were originally drafted.

As much as we may not like to admit it, it is perhaps a fact that youth, both male and female, nowadays are much more open when it comes to sexual experimentation. No longer can we assume that when it comes to underage sex, it must be the guy, particularly an older guy, who forces himself on a sexually immature/naive/innocent young girl. Instead, it may be the case of an underage girl initiating sex with her equally underage boyfriend or, although this may be very rare, an underage girl seducing an older adult male.

Yet, it appears that, as evidenced by this recent case involving the trainee teacher, regardless of whether an underage girl is a consenting party, initiating party or has a record of being sexually active, the criminal responsibility remains the sole burden of the guy involved.

Do not be mistaken. I am not suggesting that the laws governing underage sex should be abolished; I do recognise the continued and crucial need to protect minors from sexual abuse and exploitation. However, in light of the changed times, perhaps it is time that these laws be reviewed, updated and fine-tuned to make them more congruent with contemporary reality?

Of course, admittedly, while it may be easy to say that the laws should be reviewed, the more difficult question is "How?".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. So logical.

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